Monday, June 18, 2012

Agent Research: QueryTracker

by Jemi Fraser

I'm getting closer to finishing up my WIP. I'm still in the polishing and shining stage, so I won't be querying for a while yet, but I've started researching agents. It's a fairly involved process, so I thought I'd take you through my procedure—which of course won't work for everyone—but it might give you some ideas of where to start.

There are a lot of fabulous agents out there. Many of them will be the perfect choice for you. How do you find them? In this post I talked a bit in general about AgentQuery, QueryTracker (QT) and Preditors and Editors. Today I'm going to focus a bit more specifically on QT and their searchable agent database today. Last time I checked, there were over 1000 agents listed. Obviously you need to narrow your search. QT allows you to narrow down the list by choosing the genre(s) of your story/stories. You can choose multiple categories to narrow down your search further.

I'll use my recent searches as an example. My story is a romance with a strong subplot of suspense/mystery. So, I chose fiction–romance, then fiction–mystery, fiction–suspense. I had 114 agents to search. When I searched romance only, I had 189 agents. Not a huge difference for me, but if you're planning on writing fantasy and thrillers for instance, it would be nice to know which agents rep both.

QT lists the agents in alphabetical order by last names. It shows if they accept email or snail mail queries or if there's an online form. Once you click on an agent's name, it gives you more information.

  • The overview tab lists the agency's website and the agent's personal blog and twitter if applicable. It also links to their information on AgentQuery, Preditors & Editors, Publishers Marketplace, AAR and sometimes interviews as well. There are a few agencies without an online presence, but these are included in the listings as well.
  • The comments tab shows comments by QT members who are willing to share who they queried and what the response was. It's easy to find out from this tab if the agent only responds if interested and what their form letters are like.
  • One tab shows the clients of the agent. This is really handy. Even though the agent might rep a wide variety of genres, you'll see quickly what they have sold. Some of the agents in my search sold almost exclusively nonfiction books. I would assume that's where their best contacts in the publishing world are. By checking out the clients, I also find out if the agent already reps someone who sells stories similar to the one I'm querying. That all helps me decide where the agent fits on my wishlist.
  • There is another tab for reports. This can show you how many queries the agent has received, in what genre, how they've responded ... Some of these features are exclusive to the premium membership.

Speaking of that premium membership, it's $25/year. The basic membership allows you to track your querying process for one project. Among other perks, the premium membership allows you to track 20 projects. When you're tracking project 2, it reminds you if you queried each agent with project 1 and how that turned out.

Now, as good as QT is, it's not enough. Once you've narrowed down the list of agents you're interested in querying, I'd suggest a few more steps.

Click through to the agency website and the agent's personal blog if she/he has one. You can find out a LOT of information this way. The lists of genres is sometimes a bit deceiving. As I said, I'm looking for agents who represent romance. By visiting the websites I eliminated at least a dozen agents who only want to see historical or paranormal romance and one who wants only multi-generational stories. Agents are busy people. I'd rather not waste their time querying for something they're not interested in. I'd rather focus on those agents who state they're looking for contemporary stories.

QT has a 'Notes' space where you can keep track of your thoughts about the agent. I use it to track those tidbits I might use to personalize my query when I do get to that stage.

There are a LOT more features on QT that I didn't mention. I'll do that in another post.

Any questions? Anything you'd like to see in that post? Have you used QT? What's your favourite part of it? Any other tips?

Jemi Fraser is an aspiring author of romantic mysteries. She blogs and tweets while searching for those HEAs.

36 comments:

Old Kitty said...

Good luck Jemi with finding the agent for your writing!! And thanks for the low down on QT. For now, I am happy with my yearly Writers' and Artists' Yearbook.

Take care
x

JeffO said...

Another nice feature on QT is on the 'overview' page for a given agent, there is also a header called 'Quick Click Tools' which links to Yahoo, Google and Google Books, Publisher's Marketplace, and more, and will call up a search for that agent's name via that search engine/site, etc. QT is a great site for certain. Good luck with your search, Jemi.

Theresa Milstein said...

Thanks for the thorough post about Query Tracker. It sounds like you're really dong your homework!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Too bad there's nothing like that for publishers. Never queried agents but would have appreciated a database for publishers.

Jemi Fraser said...

Old Kitty - I don't anything about the yearbook - I'll have to check it out. There are so many great resources!

Jeff - thanks! There are a ton of helpful features on QT - thanks for pointing out those ones!

Theresa - as teachers we know all about homework, don't we? :)

Alex - they do have a publishers tab, but I've never checked it out, so I don't know much about it!

Yvonne Osborne said...

This is a good resource and one I intend to bookmark for when I'm ready to start research....again. QT in the past has been a little confusing for me, maybe because I didn't want to shell out 25 bucks. I like your process, as my novel too has strong subplots. I've been told it's a romance, drama, and thriller, thus hard to pigeonhole which might be intimidating to an agent/publisher who is looking for easily categorized projects. Have you hever felt like this?

Talli Roland said...

Best of luck, Jemi! I used QT when I was querying ages ago, and I found it super helpful.

Julie Dao said...

GREAT advice, Jemi. I've also learned that although QT and AgentQuery are invaluable sources, they're not always perfect. The best way to get a feel for what an agent wants is through his or her blog. Twitter is another one I'd recommend. You can see what they're like as people, and often they tweet query updates and tips. So helpful! Thank goodness for the internet, right?

Medeia Sharif said...

I haven't used it, but I've heard many good things about QT. It's awesome that there's a database and tracker for querying.

Jemi Fraser said...

Yvonne - I have! It's hard to nail that genre sometimes. I've decided to call mine a romance with elements of mystery (or something like that) because I think my story would fit best on the romance shelves. Hmmm, sounds like a good topic for another post! :)

Talli - thanks! I find it well laid out and organized. Very helpful!

Julie - no kidding! Hard to even imagine doing all of this pre-Internet. It must have been a very lonely process!

Medeia - it's very helpful. I like my spreadsheets and this one works extremely well! :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

Thanks for the info, Jemi. It's great to have that kind of info available thru the Web.

Jemi Fraser said...

Jennifer - you're very welcome. There are a lot of great sites out there - QT is definitely one of them! :)

DL Hammons said...

I'm intimately familiar with QT now. You did an excellent job showcasing it! :)

Jemi Fraser said...

DL - thank you! It's really an impressive site with lots of advantages for aspiring authors! :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

That was a great overview. Now if I would just finish rewriting, I could follow your advice!

Query Forms said...

Good Luck Jemi, I would follow your query tracker advice...

Jemi Fraser said...

Tricia - I know exactly how you feel! I really have to get to that stage too :)

Query Forms - thank you! It's a great site :)

Sarah Ahiers said...

I am a QT junkie. I'm on there multiple times a day, checking on 2 of my projects. I have QT alerts set up to email me if anyone comments on an agent i have a query or sub out with. And i totally reccomend the premium membership, for the data launcher alone! It's awesome being able to see when people on QT queried the agent and whent they got a response and what that response was (all anonymously, of course)

Jean Oram said...

That's awesome info, Jemi. I had no idea QT had that much info in their database. Do you find most of it is up-to-date?

Good luck with your queries. :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Sarah - I'm just learning the ins and outs of the premium membership. So far, it's awesome! And there's a lot more to learn so far :)

Jean - thanks! I think most of it is up-to-date. If an agent closes to queries, that info is on QT in less than 24 hours. :)

Precy Larkins said...

Great post, Jemi! QT helped me organized my query list. The funny thing is, I actually found my agent through Twitter--she wasn't even listed on QT because her agency is new. :)

Anyway, I do agree with you about following up by checking agent websites or blogs (if they have any) just to get the most recent information.

Jemi Fraser said...

Precy - that's so cool! QT keeps up well, but there are always more specifics you can find on their agency and personal sites! :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

I've recently been looking at Query Tracker and Agent Query--looks like they might be faster than thumbing through agent reference books and blog referrals.

Jemi Fraser said...

Pat - I think they are! I love both the sites - AQ was the first place I stumbled upon when I started this whole process. They're both so helpful!

Deniz Bevan said...

I've used QT but I made my own Excel sheet :-)
I was/am surprised how many agents still accept only snail mail queries!

Jemi Fraser said...

Deniz - I have my own spreadsheets too! It surprises me, too, how many agencies/agents don't have online presences and do the snail mail thing!

Ella said...

Thank you Jemi! I have so much to learn. I appreciate all of your details and tips~ :D

Jemi Fraser said...

Ella - you're very welcome. I'm by no means an expert - but I'm sure learning a lot myself! :)

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

What a wonderful tool. I'm not familiar with QT, so this post was very interesting. Best of luck to you as you narrow down your search for the perfect agent!

Jemi Fraser said...

Cynthia - thank you! I 'just' have to find the courage to actually press send when the time comes!! :)

Liza said...

Thanks for the overview. I'm not there yet, but maybe by years end. This is a great help.

Jemi Fraser said...

Liza - I'm not there yet either - but I'm a fiend about being prepared! Good luck to you :)

The Golden Eagle said...

I'm not at the point of looking for agents, but I've bookmarked this post for future reference. Thanks for the tips!

Jemi Fraser said...

Golden Eagle - glad I could help! QT is an awesome site with tons of great information :)

Lynda R Young said...

Great--and timely--advice. I do like QT :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Lynda - thanks! QT is a fabulous site! :)